New research has demonstrated a strong connection between hearing loss and mental health.
Beyond this connection, both disorders have something else in common – they frequently go unacknowledged and neglected by health professionals and patients. Knowing there is a relationship could potentially improve mental health for millions of individuals and offer hope as they seek solutions.
The impact of hearing loss on mental health has only been dealt with by a few studies even though hearing loss is very widespread.
Out of all individuals who are diagnosed with hearing loss, studies show that over 11 percent of them also deal with clinical depression. Depression was only reported by 5 percent of the general population so this finding is noteworthy. Depression was analyzed by the severity and frequency of the symptoms and a standard questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was utilized. They discovered depression was most prevalent in individuals between the ages of 18 and 69. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a scientist at NICDC and the author of this study, found “a considerable link between severe depression and hearing loss”.
Neglected Hearing Loss Doubles Your Risk of Depression
Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, found that individuals with age-related hearing loss (a really common chronic condition in the elderly) experienced more signs of depression and the more severe the hearing loss – the higher the chance of depression. After audiometric hearing testing, participants took an evaluation for depression. This study also revealed that the chance of depression almost doubles in people with even minor hearing loss. Even more startling, mild hearing loss often goes undiagnosed and untreated by many people over 70 which has also been demonstrated to increase the danger of cognitive decline and dementia. Obviously, there’s a link between the two even though a strong cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been established.
Hearing is essential to being active and communicating effectively. Embarrassment, anxiety, and potential loss of self-esteem can be the consequence of the social and professional blunders that come with hearing loss. If not addressed, these feelings can result in a steady withdrawal. People begin to avoid physical activity and seclude themselves from friends and family. Over time, this can lead to solitude, loneliness – and depression.
Hearing Isn’t Simply About Your Ears
Hearing loss is about more than the ears as is underscored by its connection with depression. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and overall health are all impacted by your hearing. This indicates that within your general healthcare, your hearing professional is an important part. Confusion, aggravation, and fatigue are often a problem for people who have hearing loss.
The good news: The issue can be substantially improved by having a hearing exam and treatment as soon as you notice hearing loss symptoms. Studies demonstrate that treating hearing loss early significantly diminishes their risk. It is essential that physicians advise routine hearing exams. Hearing impairment isn’t the only thing that a hearing exam can reveal, after all. Caregivers should also watch for signs of depression in patients who might be dealing with either or both. Common symptoms include difficulty focusing, exhaustion, overall loss of interest, sadness, and loss of appetite.
Don’t suffer alone. If you suspect you have hearing loss, call us to schedule a hearing test.